As I’ve noted several times, my Hall of Fame thing isn’t necessarily voters getting “the right ballot.” It’s just about having an actual coherent philosophy and approach and maintaining some level of intellectual consistency about yourself. For example, Ken Rosenthal and I differ sharply about PED users in the Hall of Fame, but his Hall of Fame ballot is still rigorous and defensible and consistent with his stated beliefs despite looking pretty different from my hypothetical ballot. I’m accused of being Hall of Fame Thought Police, but all I really ask is that you not be a blithering idiot about it.
Here’s a good example of how that all works: Noted idiot Dan Shaughnessy blithered his Hall of Fame ballot over the weekend. My stomach is not strong enough to get into it blow-by-blow, but Jason Collette gave it a good going-over. It’s worth your time, if for no other reason than the insane level of slapdashery on display.
This year Shaugnessy voted for Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux. That leaves five empty slots, suggesting that he does not believe anyone else on the ballot is worthy. Which would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that, as Collette notes, Shaughnessy voted for Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, and Curt Schilling last year.
Why no Raines and Trammell this year? It’s not because they got crowded out — there’s plenty of room left on Shaughnessy’s ballot — it’s because Shaugnessy doesn’t give enough of a crap about his vote to even look at what he did last year or to maintain even a shred of intellectual consistency about it. For all of the stuff we hear from writers about the honor and responsibility of a Hall of Fame vote and for all of the stuff we hear about how much they agonize over such an important task, one of the most noted sportswriters of the past 30 years dashes his ballot the hell off in about five minutes.
What a process.
A Solar Eclipse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.
Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union — launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.
Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”
As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.
I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.